Big Alternative Medicine Threatens Suit Against Skeptical Blogger

BrainSaltThe alt-med controversy is often framed as a David-and-Goliath clash between small-time distributors of natural heath products, on one hand, and “big pharma” on the other. It is worth considering, however, that alt-med has become a lucrative industry in its own right, capable of engaging in the same abuses often associated with powerful pharmaceutical companies.

In Europe, draconian libel laws are increasingly being used to intimidate bloggers who question the validity of specific alt-med products or modalities. The most recent case involves the multinational homeopathy manufacturer Boiron and an amateur blogger in Italy. Steven Novella at Science-Based Medicine writes:

There have been many cases now of big companies or organizations, or wealthy individuals, threatening to sue or actually suing a blogger for libel. The most famous case is that of Simon Singh who was sued by the British Chiropractic Association over comments he made in an article. Simon braved through the expensive and exhaustive legal process (which is especially onerous in England), but he is not just a lone blogger. He is a successful author and was writing for the Guardian. Eventually the BCA was forced to drop the case – but only after the blogging community rallied behind Simon, magnifying his criticisms of the BCA by orders of magnitude. By all accounts it was a PR disaster.

The blogging community as a whole is rather passionate about this issue. We exist on the premise of free and open public discourse about important issues. At SBM we take on many controversial issues and we don’t pull our punches when criticizing what we see as pseudoscience in medicine. So of course we take notice when a large company tries to bully a blogger to silence their legitimate criticism.

[Full Article at Science-Based Medicine]

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  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    sigh…

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    sigh…

  • DeepCough

    No, we cannot be informed consumers in the free marketplace, we must be docile buyers of every single product in the great big-box department store owned by China.

  • DeepCough

    No, we cannot be informed consumers in the free marketplace, we must be docile buyers of every single product in the great big-box department store owned by China.

  • Anonymous

    I think the nature of the title of the blog, “science based medicine” says it all.

    I am not defending homeopathy, nor do i use it, but there are legitimate alternative medical systems, that work and have thousands of years of efficacy. 75% of all pharamaceuticals have their origin in plants and flowers.

  • Jin The Ninja

    I think the nature of the title of the blog, “science based medicine” says it all.

    I am not defending homeopathy, nor do i use it, but there are legitimate alternative medical systems, that work and have thousands of years of efficacy. 75% of all pharamaceuticals have their origin in plants and flowers.

    • Haystack

      And science-based medicine is just the practice of running controlled tests to find out which work and which do not. Aspirin was an herbal remedy that worked, and it was embraced. The trouble is that if something turns out not to work, companies don’t want to stop selling it, so it gets marketed instead as a “natural supplement.” Science is a common-sense vetting process, not a competing model. 

      • Jin The Ninja

         western science is in fact posited as a competing model of health and knowledge. there is no profit in allowing alternative systems of medicine to thrive alongside western health models- which have increasingly become pharmaceutical and surgical in nature. drug and cut.  science in itself is eurocentric in that epistemologically it is informed by western modes of thinking; however in saying that it CAN be relatively objective for trial based testing. Like i said i neither use nor believe in homeopathy, but calling a blog ‘science based medicine’ is skeptical and dismissive of alternative modes that do work.

        • Haystack

          “but calling a blog ‘science based medicine’ is skeptical and dismissive of alternative modes that do work.”

          How do you know they work unless you do some sort of experiment to test them? 

          • Jin The Ninja

            I am NOT opposed to testing of any kind, but indigenous and traditional medicine models have existed for 1000s of years due to the process of trial and error. To dismiss those practices because they do not fit a laboratory model is blatantly eurocentrist and borderline…

          • Haystack

            Why wouldn’t a cure that has been identified through thousands of years of trial and error also be amenable to testing in a clinical trial? 

            Many drugs have been discovered by visiting indigenous peoples and analyzing the active compounds in the medicines they use. 

          • Jin The Ninja

            Which is exactly what i said in my last post. But they are patented and co opted by huge corporations for huge profits. Indigenous/traditional knowledge does not belong to them, nor should it be exploited by pharma. As i also said, when you take plant based compounds out of their traditional medicinal context, you lose properties and synergy between other plants and flowers. Even though a plant produces a beneficial compound (identifiable) we are still unsure of how the other compounds work to affect treatment. 1 plant used in it’s natural state can be more potent that its synthesised cousin due to this effect.

            I am all for clinical trials, whom is going to fund them? pharma companies won’t.

          • Haystack

            I agree with you that pharmaceutical companies should not simply take the medical knowledge of indigenous peoples without, at least, some kind of fair trade under conditions of equality and full disclosure. But then, neither should alt med companies. 

            Generally, plants in their traditional state are sketchier because it is not easy to control the dose. Potency will vary between plants, and between parts of a plant. When an active ingredient is extracted and refined, you get a pill with a known, standard dose, which is surely preferable to the guesswork of grinding roots into tea, etc. 

            If a given cure requires compounds found in other plants and flowers to work, then, again, that seems like something you would want to run experiments to find out. If Flower A requires a diet of Fruit B to work, then Flower A is going to be just as ineffective if sold by a phrama company as it will in a health foods store. 

            As for clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies are exactly who is going to fund them. They have to, or they can’t get approved by the FDA. “Dietary supplements,” by contrast, are exempted from having to perform any tests for either efficacy or safety. 

            I’m not at all opposed to evaluating herbs or non-western medicine. I just think we need run tests to see what works and what doesn’t. The trouble is that when something turns out not work, people keep selling it anyway; it just gets marketed as a “natural” or “traditional” “supplement” that big pharma doesn’t want you to know about. 

            A lot of the time, though, it’s actually big pharma selling the stuff. They can sell Prozac to the people who want Prozac, and St. John’s Wort to the people who want St. John’s Wort. It’s not really a threat to them. 

          • Haystack

            I agree with you that pharmaceutical companies should not simply take the medical knowledge of indigenous peoples without, at least, some kind of fair trade under conditions of equality and full disclosure. But then, neither should alt med companies. 

            Generally, plants in their traditional state are sketchier because it is not easy to control the dose. Potency will vary between plants, and between parts of a plant. When an active ingredient is extracted and refined, you get a pill with a known, standard dose, which is surely preferable to the guesswork of grinding roots into tea, etc. 

            If a given cure requires compounds found in other plants and flowers to work, then, again, that seems like something you would want to run experiments to find out. If Flower A requires a diet of Fruit B to work, then Flower A is going to be just as ineffective if sold by a phrama company as it will in a health foods store. 

            As for clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies are exactly who is going to fund them. They have to, or they can’t get approved by the FDA. “Dietary supplements,” by contrast, are exempted from having to perform any tests for either efficacy or safety. 

            I’m not at all opposed to evaluating herbs or non-western medicine. I just think we need run tests to see what works and what doesn’t. The trouble is that when something turns out not work, people keep selling it anyway; it just gets marketed as a “natural” or “traditional” “supplement” that big pharma doesn’t want you to know about. 

            A lot of the time, though, it’s actually big pharma selling the stuff. They can sell Prozac to the people who want Prozac, and St. John’s Wort to the people who want St. John’s Wort. It’s not really a threat to them. 

          • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

            More likely…the legal impossibility of exclusively patenting a product that can be grown in a backyard hothouse is at the ‘root’ of the inability of western style medicine’s reluctance to embrace ethnobotany more fully.

          • Haystack

            Big pharma will still be able to undersell and mass produce the competition out of existence. The inability to patent a product hurts the small company more than the big one. 

          • Haystack

            Big pharma will still be able to undersell and mass produce the competition out of existence. The inability to patent a product hurts the small company more than the big one. 

          • Haystack

            Big pharma will still be able to undersell and mass produce the competition out of existence. The inability to patent a product hurts the small company more than the big one. 

          • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

            More likely…the legal impossibility of exclusively patenting a product that can be grown in a backyard hothouse is at the ‘root’ of the inability of western style medicine’s reluctance to embrace ethnobotany more fully.

          • Jin The Ninja

            I am NOT opposed to testing of any kind, but indigenous and traditional medicine models have existed for 1000s of years due to the process of trial and error. To dismiss those practices because they do not fit a laboratory model is blatantly eurocentrist and borderline…

          • Jin The Ninja

            75-80% of all pharma are derived from plants and flowers, without traditional knowledge of plant use- pharmacologists would not have been able to ‘weed’ through the millions of species of plants to locate beneficial medicinal ones. Ethnobotany. as well, by synthesising and amplyfing single chemicals derived from organic nature based compounds, the chemicals change and lose the properties that are produced by mulitple plant chemicals working syncretically. A common example is the scientifically known anti fungal properties of lemongrass when used in its form as an essential oil works BETTER when combined with geraniol found in certain essential oils from the same region. Traditional medicine would combine several plants that are able to produced the desired effect rather than use a single plant or compund. this contrasts drastically with western health models. the entire paradigm of non western medicine uses different conceptions of health, mainly regarding the body as a unified system. it makes perfect sense to me.

          • Jin The Ninja

            75-80% of all pharma are derived from plants and flowers, without traditional knowledge of plant use- pharmacologists would not have been able to ‘weed’ through the millions of species of plants to locate beneficial medicinal ones. Ethnobotany. as well, by synthesising and amplyfing single chemicals derived from organic nature based compounds, the chemicals change and lose the properties that are produced by mulitple plant chemicals working syncretically. A common example is the scientifically known anti fungal properties of lemongrass when used in its form as an essential oil works BETTER when combined with geraniol found in certain essential oils from the same region. Traditional medicine would combine several plants that are able to produced the desired effect rather than use a single plant or compund. this contrasts drastically with western health models. the entire paradigm of non western medicine uses different conceptions of health, mainly regarding the body as a unified system. it makes perfect sense to me.

          • Hadrian999

            some things can’t really be tested, the effects are objective, something like an antibiotic is easy to test you take you take before and after counts of bacteria and get clear cut results. Testing pain relief or well being results are much different, you have to rely on the descriptions of effects from test subjects and the results are colored by the test subjects state of mind, expectations, and life history, it’s mostly guesswork, skeptics are really no more trustworthy on the subject than snake oil salesmen are, skeptics have just as much invested in getting their desired result.

          • Haystack

            If a treatment has an effect, then it can be tested. If patients who receive a treatment report, on average, more pain relief than those who don’t, then you have an effect. 

            And you do get an effect from things like, say, acupuncture. However, you get that same effect if you compare the results to a second group of patients who are simply having needles inserted into the back without regard to the location of energy medians, etc, which are suppose to be the mechanism that causes acupuncture to work. 

            What it comes down to is that it’s not the manipulation of chi that works, but it’s the relaxation, the human contact, the attention that the practitioner is giving you, etc. And it’s a fair criticism to say that you don’t usually get that kind of attention from mainstream physicians. By that same token, however, people are paying a lot of money to acupuncturists for what they could just as easily get from a good massage. 

            In my mind, if something has an effect, then by definition there is a way to test it. 

          • Jin The Ninja

            I totally disagree with your characterisation of acunpuncture and it’s placebo form. Chinese doctors had correct depictions of babies in utero nearly 500 years before western doctors. There is a historical precedant for 2500 years of TCM.

          • Haystack

            That may all be true, but it doesn’t appear that chi itself is real, based on the above comparison. 

          • Jin The Ninja

            By your measure, consciousness is not ‘real’ either.

          • Haystack

            These are non-sequitors. What the study showed was that patients reported the same degree of pain relief from acupuncture directed at chi meridians as they did with randomly placed needles, which suggests that the pain relief effect is not due to chi but to something else (e.g., human contact). 

            Whether or not Chinese doctors depicted babies in utero 500 years before western doctors doesn’t change the fact that patients can’t tell the difference between an acupuncturist who is using needles to manipulate chi and one who is not…so what is the value of it? 

          • Jin The Ninja

            One study is not proof positive of anything. Materialism has its limits in that physical sciences cannot describe all phenomenon.

            Holistic systems of knowledge have value far beyond your narrow scope of understanding. Daoism on which many components of TCM are based (including the concept of chi) has a philosophical tradition spanning thousands of years. Value and knowledge are not related to how much a western atheist simply ascribes to the aforementioned knowledge. Value is relative and cultural, and seemingly dependent on paradigm.

          • Jin The Ninja

            By your measure, consciousness is not ‘real’ either.

          • Jin The Ninja

            By your measure, consciousness is not ‘real’ either.

          • Haystack

            That may all be true, but it doesn’t appear that chi itself is real, based on the above comparison. 

          • Haystack

            That may all be true, but it doesn’t appear that chi itself is real, based on the above comparison. 

          • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

            interesting side note…western medicine studies just acknowledged the effectiveness of acupuncture in pain relief and the encouragement of natural endorphin release.

          • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

            interesting side note…western medicine studies just acknowledged the effectiveness of acupuncture in pain relief and the encouragement of natural endorphin release.

          • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

            interesting side note…western medicine studies just acknowledged the effectiveness of acupuncture in pain relief and the encouragement of natural endorphin release.

          • Jin The Ninja

            I totally disagree with your characterisation of acunpuncture and it’s placebo form. Chinese doctors had correct depictions of babies in utero nearly 500 years before western doctors. There is a historical precedant for 2500 years of TCM.

          • Jin The Ninja

            I totally disagree with your characterisation of acunpuncture and it’s placebo form. Chinese doctors had correct depictions of babies in utero nearly 500 years before western doctors. There is a historical precedant for 2500 years of TCM.

          • Hadrian999

            maybe there is an effect and maybe there isn’t but no scientific test of any real validity can be made if the effect can’t be objectively measured in a concrete way. for example imagine you take a prize fighter or military veteran and ask them to assign a number value to a pain inducing stimuli, then apply that same stimuli to a young office worker, it will be the same input but the office worker will most likely assign it a much higher number value

          • Haystack

            That’s why you would use a large sample size–the individual differences between the office workers and prize fights would balance out when once you test on 100 randomly selected individuals. 

            In any event, if I have to choose between an aspirin and a product which, for whatever reason, is unable to demonstrate its efficacy, I’ll put my money on the aspirin. 

          • Hadrian999

            maybe there is an effect and maybe there isn’t but no scientific test of any real validity can be made if the effect can’t be objectively measured in a concrete way. for example imagine you take a prize fighter or military veteran and ask them to assign a number value to a pain inducing stimuli, then apply that same stimuli to a young office worker, it will be the same input but the office worker will most likely assign it a much higher number value

          • Hadrian999

            maybe there is an effect and maybe there isn’t but no scientific test of any real validity can be made if the effect can’t be objectively measured in a concrete way. for example imagine you take a prize fighter or military veteran and ask them to assign a number value to a pain inducing stimuli, then apply that same stimuli to a young office worker, it will be the same input but the office worker will most likely assign it a much higher number value

          • Haystack

            If a treatment has an effect, then it can be tested. If patients who receive a treatment report, on average, more pain relief than those who don’t, then you have an effect. 

            And you do get an effect from things like, say, acupuncture. However, you get that same effect if you compare the results to a second group of patients who are simply having needles inserted into the back without regard to the location of energy medians, etc, which are suppose to be the mechanism that causes acupuncture to work. 

            What it comes down to is that it’s not the manipulation of chi that works, but it’s the relaxation, the human contact, the attention that the practitioner is giving you, etc. And it’s a fair criticism to say that you don’t usually get that kind of attention from mainstream physicians. By that same token, however, people are paying a lot of money to acupuncturists for what they could just as easily get from a good massage. 

            In my mind, if something has an effect, then by definition there is a way to test it. 

          • Haystack

            If a treatment has an effect, then it can be tested. If patients who receive a treatment report, on average, more pain relief than those who don’t, then you have an effect. 

            And you do get an effect from things like, say, acupuncture. However, you get that same effect if you compare the results to a second group of patients who are simply having needles inserted into the back without regard to the location of energy medians, etc, which are suppose to be the mechanism that causes acupuncture to work. 

            What it comes down to is that it’s not the manipulation of chi that works, but it’s the relaxation, the human contact, the attention that the practitioner is giving you, etc. And it’s a fair criticism to say that you don’t usually get that kind of attention from mainstream physicians. By that same token, however, people are paying a lot of money to acupuncturists for what they could just as easily get from a good massage. 

            In my mind, if something has an effect, then by definition there is a way to test it. 

          • Hadrian999

            some things can’t really be tested, the effects are objective, something like an antibiotic is easy to test you take you take before and after counts of bacteria and get clear cut results. Testing pain relief or well being results are much different, you have to rely on the descriptions of effects from test subjects and the results are colored by the test subjects state of mind, expectations, and life history, it’s mostly guesswork, skeptics are really no more trustworthy on the subject than snake oil salesmen are, skeptics have just as much invested in getting their desired result.

        • Haystack

          “but calling a blog ‘science based medicine’ is skeptical and dismissive of alternative modes that do work.”

          How do you know they work unless you do some sort of experiment to test them? 

      • Jin The Ninja

         western science is in fact posited as a competing model of health and knowledge. there is no profit in allowing alternative systems of medicine to thrive alongside western health models- which have increasingly become pharmaceutical and surgical in nature. drug and cut.  science in itself is eurocentric in that epistemologically it is informed by western modes of thinking; however in saying that it CAN be relatively objective for trial based testing. Like i said i neither use nor believe in homeopathy, but calling a blog ‘science based medicine’ is skeptical and dismissive of alternative modes that do work.

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      In the case of the chiropractic assoc vs. the blogger…they may have overreacted and given him more credit than he was due…but they were essentially right. Chiropractic work is a legitimate study of the human spine and musculature, not based on quackery or supposition, but based on definable medical science. Characterizing them as ‘big-alternative medicine’ against a tiny hero seems a little unfair…since a more accurate description would be ‘a standard medical practice against a fraudulent crank’. There is a blogger for everything these days…no matter how far out and extreme the idea may be…theres someone dedicated to the pursuit of spreading that point of view.

      Still, I can’t support massive lawsuits against people in any case…since the best way to rebut weirdos and crackpots is to ignore them or offer a simple, clear response that shows no fear of dialogue.  

      • Haystack

        Chiropractic comes in different flavors. It originated as a vitalistic theory about energy moving through the body, and misalignments throwing the body out of balance and causing all disease. Some chiropractors still subscribe to these ideas; others hold degrees in physical therapy and basically practice scientific medicine. It varies between practitioner, but there is a definite strain of quackery if you look into the history of chiropractic. 

        The British court actually found in favor of Simon Singh in that case. 

        • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

          I know they found favor for the blogger in the end…not because the blogger was accurate in his statements…but because there is no requirement that he should be accurate…and that excessive lawsuits against any statement people disagree with is a bad precedent to set. Personally…I still believe the blogger was full of shit…but his speech rights deserve to protected like every one elses. Lawsuits are the greater threat to public liberty and freedom speech and of expression…so I have to default support him whether I like him or not.

          As for chiropractic…the very dawn of it was as full of misnomers as regular medicine. Shit…look at medical history in the US and England during the early 1900s…chock full of batshit and bad ideas. That said…the last 100 years have cleaned a lot of the silliest stuff away…and chiropractors are generally a pretty solid bunch.

          My mom was a PT Nurse specialized in childrens diseases of the muscles, nerves and spine for 35 years. Her textbooks read about the same as a chiropractors…but there are always people spoiling for a fight on the interwebz…and the targets of someones personal ragefest could be anything. At the end of the day, I support keeping the freedom to let batshit weirdos with grudges spew their bile as much as they like…because the alternative is silencing damned near everyone.  

          • Haystack

            Actually, there was a requirement that he be accurate. He had to prove his case in court. The case wasn’t decided on the basis of free speech rights. 

            Chiropractic has improved and is merging into established medical science, but there are still those who practice it according to it’s original tenets. Not all chiropractors use the same textbook, and some of them do some pretty disturbing things (e.g., performing dangerous “realignments” on the heads of babies whose skulls have not yet hardened).

          • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

            Well, that being the case, as so often happens…the courts were wrong by a country mile and there should have been disbarments for a gross misinterpretation of law. The extremist critics often spew outdated misinformation and inaccurate misrepresentations…when they don’t just flat out lie. The objective and agenda of the critic is to cast in the blackest terms possible an entire field…rather than just a few wrongful practices…and with that crusade in mind they judge everyone and everything in their path. Fuck em…thats the same conduct thats been used against damned near everyone by everyone else since the dawn of time…Christians vs all other faiths, atheists vs Christians, liberal vs conservative, hippie vs square. Its wrong when its done…and its often done with malice and intent rather than with an eye toward encouraging improvement…and its just as wrong when its done by a blogger, be it Alex Jones, Glenn Beck…or Mr. Singh.

          • Haystack

            This is what he got sued for saying:

            “You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact they still possess some quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything. And even the more moderate chiropractors have ideas above their station. The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.”

            I wouldn’t call that casting “in the blackest terms possible an entire field.” 

          • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

            Wow…hate to seem like I’m doubling down…but I took a break…asked non-chiropractic medical professionals (RNs) a few questions about what I knew about the effects of muscular/skeletal issues and their potential impacts on digestion, lung function, tension etc and whther these things remain constant even in pediatric cases…

            and it looks like both the courts AND Mr Singh are complete illiterate quacks who lack even elementary medical knowledge that has remained unchallenged for 60+ years. The real shame is that the Brit courts got it that wrong…since it appears that even Mr Singhs claim of their being ‘not a jot of evidence’ makes good copywriting…but doesn’t hold any weight with even modern non-chiropractic medical professionals. The treatments aren’t bogus or based on wild theories…they’re pretty much solid as rock and unquestioned by any save the completely batshit or illiterate.

            I hereby change my initial opinion…I was wrong to even marginally support Mr Singhs unsubstantiated and clearly hateful slander, he may very well be the kind of person who belongs in jail…or a mental ward.

          • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

            Well, that being the case, as so often happens…the courts were wrong by a country mile and there should have been disbarments for a gross misinterpretation of law. The extremist critics often spew outdated misinformation and inaccurate misrepresentations…when they don’t just flat out lie. The objective and agenda of the critic is to cast in the blackest terms possible an entire field…rather than just a few wrongful practices…and with that crusade in mind they judge everyone and everything in their path. Fuck em…thats the same conduct thats been used against damned near everyone by everyone else since the dawn of time…Christians vs all other faiths, atheists vs Christians, liberal vs conservative, hippie vs square. Its wrong when its done…and its often done with malice and intent rather than with an eye toward encouraging improvement…and its just as wrong when its done by a blogger, be it Alex Jones, Glenn Beck…or Mr. Singh.

          • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

            Well, that being the case, as so often happens…the courts were wrong by a country mile and there should have been disbarments for a gross misinterpretation of law. The extremist critics often spew outdated misinformation and inaccurate misrepresentations…when they don’t just flat out lie. The objective and agenda of the critic is to cast in the blackest terms possible an entire field…rather than just a few wrongful practices…and with that crusade in mind they judge everyone and everything in their path. Fuck em…thats the same conduct thats been used against damned near everyone by everyone else since the dawn of time…Christians vs all other faiths, atheists vs Christians, liberal vs conservative, hippie vs square. Its wrong when its done…and its often done with malice and intent rather than with an eye toward encouraging improvement…and its just as wrong when its done by a blogger, be it Alex Jones, Glenn Beck…or Mr. Singh.

          • Haystack

            Actually, there was a requirement that he be accurate. He had to prove his case in court. The case wasn’t decided on the basis of free speech rights. 

            Chiropractic has improved and is merging into established medical science, but there are still those who practice it according to it’s original tenets. Not all chiropractors use the same textbook, and some of them do some pretty disturbing things (e.g., performing dangerous “realignments” on the heads of babies whose skulls have not yet hardened).

          • Haystack

            Actually, there was a requirement that he be accurate. He had to prove his case in court. The case wasn’t decided on the basis of free speech rights. 

            Chiropractic has improved and is merging into established medical science, but there are still those who practice it according to it’s original tenets. Not all chiropractors use the same textbook, and some of them do some pretty disturbing things (e.g., performing dangerous “realignments” on the heads of babies whose skulls have not yet hardened).

        • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

          I know they found favor for the blogger in the end…not because the blogger was accurate in his statements…but because there is no requirement that he should be accurate…and that excessive lawsuits against any statement people disagree with is a bad precedent to set. Personally…I still believe the blogger was full of shit…but his speech rights deserve to protected like every one elses. Lawsuits are the greater threat to public liberty and freedom speech and of expression…so I have to default support him whether I like him or not.

          As for chiropractic…the very dawn of it was as full of misnomers as regular medicine. Shit…look at medical history in the US and England during the early 1900s…chock full of batshit and bad ideas. That said…the last 100 years have cleaned a lot of the silliest stuff away…and chiropractors are generally a pretty solid bunch.

          My mom was a PT Nurse specialized in childrens diseases of the muscles, nerves and spine for 35 years. Her textbooks read about the same as a chiropractors…but there are always people spoiling for a fight on the interwebz…and the targets of someones personal ragefest could be anything. At the end of the day, I support keeping the freedom to let batshit weirdos with grudges spew their bile as much as they like…because the alternative is silencing damned near everyone.  

        • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

          I know they found favor for the blogger in the end…not because the blogger was accurate in his statements…but because there is no requirement that he should be accurate…and that excessive lawsuits against any statement people disagree with is a bad precedent to set. Personally…I still believe the blogger was full of shit…but his speech rights deserve to protected like every one elses. Lawsuits are the greater threat to public liberty and freedom speech and of expression…so I have to default support him whether I like him or not.

          As for chiropractic…the very dawn of it was as full of misnomers as regular medicine. Shit…look at medical history in the US and England during the early 1900s…chock full of batshit and bad ideas. That said…the last 100 years have cleaned a lot of the silliest stuff away…and chiropractors are generally a pretty solid bunch.

          My mom was a PT Nurse specialized in childrens diseases of the muscles, nerves and spine for 35 years. Her textbooks read about the same as a chiropractors…but there are always people spoiling for a fight on the interwebz…and the targets of someones personal ragefest could be anything. At the end of the day, I support keeping the freedom to let batshit weirdos with grudges spew their bile as much as they like…because the alternative is silencing damned near everyone.  

      • Haystack

        Chiropractic comes in different flavors. It originated as a vitalistic theory about energy moving through the body, and misalignments throwing the body out of balance and causing all disease. Some chiropractors still subscribe to these ideas; others hold degrees in physical therapy and basically practice scientific medicine. It varies between practitioner, but there is a definite strain of quackery if you look into the history of chiropractic. 

        The British court actually found in favor of Simon Singh in that case. 

      • Haystack

        Chiropractic comes in different flavors. It originated as a vitalistic theory about energy moving through the body, and misalignments throwing the body out of balance and causing all disease. Some chiropractors still subscribe to these ideas; others hold degrees in physical therapy and basically practice scientific medicine. It varies between practitioner, but there is a definite strain of quackery if you look into the history of chiropractic. 

        The British court actually found in favor of Simon Singh in that case. 

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      In the case of the chiropractic assoc vs. the blogger…they may have overreacted and given him more credit than he was due…but they were essentially right. Chiropractic work is a legitimate study of the human spine and musculature, not based on quackery or supposition, but based on definable medical science. Characterizing them as ‘big-alternative medicine’ against a tiny hero seems a little unfair…since a more accurate description would be ‘a standard medical practice against a fraudulent crank’. There is a blogger for everything these days…no matter how far out and extreme the idea may be…theres someone dedicated to the pursuit of spreading that point of view.

      Still, I can’t support massive lawsuits against people in any case…since the best way to rebut weirdos and crackpots is to ignore them or offer a simple, clear response that shows no fear of dialogue.  

  • Haystack

    And science-based medicine is just the practice of running controlled tests to find out which work and which do not. Aspirin was an herbal remedy that worked, and it was embraced. The trouble is that if something turns out not to work, companies don’t want to stop selling it, so it gets marketed instead as a “natural supplement.” Science is a common-sense vetting process, not a competing model. 

  • Haystack

    And science-based medicine is just the practice of running controlled tests to find out which work and which do not. Aspirin was an herbal remedy that worked, and it was embraced. The trouble is that if something turns out not to work, companies don’t want to stop selling it, so it gets marketed instead as a “natural supplement.” Science is a common-sense vetting process, not a competing model. 

  • Anonymous

     western science is in fact posited as a competing model of health and knowledge. there is no profit in allowing alternative systems of medicine to thrive alongside western health models- which have increasingly become pharmaceutical and surgical in nature. drug and cut.  science in itself is eurocentric in that epistemologically it is informed by western modes of thinking; however in saying that it CAN be relatively objective for trial based testing. Like i said i neither use nor believe in homeopathy, but calling a blog ‘science based medicine’ is skeptical and dismissive of alternative modes that do work.

  • Haystack

    “but calling a blog ‘science based medicine’ is skeptical and dismissive of alternative modes that do work.”

    How do you know they work unless you do some sort of experiment to test them? 

  • Anonymous

    I am NOT opposed to testing of any kind, but indigenous and traditional medicine models have existed for 1000s of years due to the process of trial and error. To dismiss those practices because they do not fit a laboratory model is blatantly eurocentrist and borderline…

  • Anonymous

    75-80% of all pharma are derived from plants and flowers, without traditional knowledge of plant use- pharmacologists would not have been able to ‘weed’ through the millions of species of plants to locate beneficial medicinal ones. Ethnobotany. as well, by synthesising and amplyfing single chemicals derived from organic nature based compounds, the chemicals change and lose the properties that are produced by mulitple plant chemicals working syncretically. A common example is the scientifically known anti fungal properties of lemongrass when used in its form as an essential oil works BETTER when combined with geraniol found in certain essential oils from the same region. Traditional medicine would combine several plants that are able to produced the desired effect rather than use a single plant or compund. this contrasts drastically with western health models. the entire paradigm of wnon western health uses different conceptions of health, mainly regarding the body as a unified system. it ma

  • Haystack

    Why wouldn’t a cure that has been identified through thousands of years of trial and error also be amenable to testing in a clinical trial? 

    Many drugs have been discovered by visiting indigenous peoples and analyzing the active compounds in the medicines they use. 

  • Anonymous

    Which is exactly what i said in my last post. But they are patented and co opted by huge corporations for huge profits. Indigenous/traditional knowledge does not belong to them, nor should it be exploited by pharma. As i also said, when you take plant based compounds out of their traditional medicinal context, you lose properties and synergy between other plants and flowers. Even though a plant produces a beneficial compound (identifiable) we are still unsure of how the other compounds work to affect treatment. 1 plant used in it’s natural state can be more potent that its synthesised cousin due to this effect.

    I am all for clinical trials, whom is going to fund them? pharma companies won’t.

  • Hadrian999

    some things can’t really be tested, the effects are objective, something like an antibiotic is easy to test you take you take before and after counts of bacteria and get clear cut results. Testing pain relief or well being results are much different, you have to rely on the descriptions of effects from test subjects and the results are colored by the test subjects state of mind, expectations, and life history, it’s mostly guesswork, skeptics are really no more trustworthy on the subject than snake oil salesmen are, skeptics have just as much invested in getting their desired result.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    In the case of the chiropractic assoc vs. the blogger…they may have overreacted and given him more credit than he was due…but they were essentially right. Chiropractic work is a legitimate study of the human spine and musculature, not based on quackery or supposition, but based on definable medical science. Characterizing them as ‘big-alternative medicine’ against a tiny hero seems a little unfair…since a more accurate description would be ‘a standard medical practice against a fraudulent crank’. There is a blogger for everything these days…no matter how far out and extreme the idea may be…theres someone dedicated to the pursuit of spreading that point of view.

    Still, I can’t support massive lawsuits against people in any case…since the best way to rebut weirdos and crackpots is to ignore them or offer a simple, clear response that shows no fear of dialogue.  

  • Haystack

    I agree with you that pharmaceutical companies should not simply take the medical knowledge of indigenous peoples without, at least, some kind of fair trade under conditions of equality and full disclosure. But then, neither should alt med companies. 

    Generally, plants in their traditional state are sketchier because it is not easy to control the dose. Potency will vary between plants, and between parts of a plant. When an active ingredient is extracted and refined, you get a pill with a known, standard dose, which is surely preferable to the guesswork of grinding roots into tea, etc. 

    If a given cure requires compounds found in other plants and flowers to work, then, again, that seems like something you would want to run experiments to find out. If Flower A requires a diet of Fruit B to work, then Flower A is going to be just as ineffective if sold by a phrama company as it will in a health foods store. 

    As for clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies are exactly who is going to fund them. They have to, or they can’t get approved by the FDA. “Dietary supplements,” by contrast, are exempted from having to perform any tests for either efficacy or safety. 

    I’m not at all opposed to evaluating herbs or non-western medicine. I just think we need run tests to see what works and what doesn’t. The trouble is that when something turns out not work, people keep selling it anyway; it just gets marketed as a “natural” or “traditional” “supplement” that big pharma doesn’t want you to know about. 

    A lot of the time, though, it’s actually big pharma selling the stuff. They can sell Prozac to the people who want Prozac, and St. John’s Wort to the people who want St. John’s Wort. It’s not really a threat to them. 

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    More likely…the legal impossibility of exclusively patenting a product that can be grown in a backyard hothouse is at the ‘root’ of the inability of western style medicine’s reluctance to embrace ethnobotany more fully.

  • Haystack

    Big pharma will still be able to undersell and mass produce the competition out of existence. The inability to patent a product hurts the small company more than the big one. 

  • Haystack

    Chiropractic comes in different flavors. It originated as a vitalistic theory about energy moving through the body, and misalignments throwing the body out of balance and causing all disease. Some chiropractors still subscribe to these ideas; others hold degrees in physical therapy and basically practice scientific medicine. It varies between practitioner, but there is a definite strain of quackery if you look into the history of chiropractic. 

    The British court actually found in favor of Simon Singh in that case. 

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I know they found favor for the blogger in the end…not because the blogger was accurate in his statements…but because there is no requirement that he should be accurate…and that excessive lawsuits against any statement people disagree with is a bad precedent to set. Personally…I still believe the blogger was full of shit…but his speech rights deserve to protected like every one elses. Lawsuits are the greater threat to public liberty and freedom speech and of expression…so I have to default support him whether I like him or not.

    As for chiropractic…the very dawn of it was as full of misnomers as regular medicine. Shit…look at medical history in the US and England during the early 1900s…chock full of batshit and bad ideas. That said…the last 100 years have cleaned a lot of the silliest stuff away…and chiropractors are generally a pretty solid bunch.

    My mom was a PT Nurse specialized in childrens diseases of the muscles, nerves and spine for 35 years. Her textbooks read about the same as a chiropractors…but there are always people spoiling for a fight on the interwebz…and the targets of someones personal ragefest could be anything. At the end of the day, I support keeping the freedom to let batshit weirdos with grudges spew their bile as much as they like…because the alternative is silencing damned near everyone.  

  • Haystack

    If a treatment has an effect, then it can be tested. If patients who receive a treatment report, on average, more pain relief than those who don’t, then you have an effect. 

    And you do get an effect from things like, say, acupuncture. However, you get that same effect if you compare the results to a second group of patients who are simply having needles inserted into the back without regard to the location of energy medians, etc, which are suppose to be the mechanism that causes acupuncture to work. 

    What it comes down to is that it’s not the manipulation of chi that works, but it’s the relaxation, the human contact, the attention that the practitioner is giving you, etc. And it’s a fair criticism to say that you don’t usually get that kind of attention from mainstream physicians. By that same token, however, people are paying a lot of money to acupuncturists for what they could just as easily get from a good massage. 

    In my mind, if something has an effect, then by definition there is a way to test it. 

  • Anonymous

    I totally disagree with your characterisation of acunpuncture and it’s placebo form. Chinese doctors had correct depictions of babies in utero nearly 500 years before western doctors. There is a historical precedant for 2500 years of TCM.

  • Haystack

    Actually, there was a requirement that he be accurate. He had to prove his case in court. The case wasn’t decided on the basis of free speech rights. 

    Chiropractic has improved and is merging into established medical science, but there are still those who practice it according to it’s original tenets. Not all chiropractors use the same textbook, and some of them do some pretty disturbing things (e.g., performing dangerous “realignments” on the heads of babies whose skulls have not yet hardened).

  • Haystack

    That may all be true, but it doesn’t appear that chi itself is real, based on the above comparison. 

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well, that being the case, as so often happens…the courts were wrong by a country mile and there should have been disbarments for a gross misinterpretation of law. The extremist critics often spew outdated misinformation and inaccurate misrepresentations…when they don’t just flat out lie. The objective and agenda of the critic is to cast in the blackest terms possible an entire field…rather than just a few wrongful practices…and with that crusade in mind they judge everyone and everything in their path. Fuck em…thats the same conduct thats been used against damned near everyone by everyone else since the dawn of time…Christians vs all other faiths, atheists vs Christians, liberal vs conservative, hippie vs square. Its wrong when its done…and its often done with malice and intent rather than with an eye toward encouraging improvement…and its just as wrong when its done by a blogger, be it Alex Jones, Glenn Beck…or Mr. Singh.

  • Anonymous

    By your measure, consciousness is not ‘real’ either.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    interesting side note…western medicine studies just acknowledged the effectiveness of acupuncture in pain relief and the encouragement of natural endorphin release.

  • Hadrian999

    maybe there is an effect and maybe there isn’t but no scientific test of any real validity can be made if the effect can’t be objectively measured in a concrete way. for example imagine you take a prize fighter or military veteran and ask them to assign a number value to a pain inducing stimuli, then apply that same stimuli to a young office worker, it will be the same input but the office worker will most likely assign it a much higher number value

  • Haystack

    This is what he got sued for saying:

    “You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact they still possess some quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything. And even the more moderate chiropractors have ideas above their station. The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.”

    I wouldn’t call that casting “in the blackest terms possible an entire field.” 

  • Haystack

    These are non-sequitors. What the study showed was that patients reported the same degree of pain relief from acupuncture directed at chi meridians as they did with randomly placed needles, which suggests that the pain relief effect is not due to chi but to something else (e.g., human contact). 

    Whether or not Chinese doctors depicted babies in utero 500 years before western doctors doesn’t change the fact that patients can’t tell the difference between an acupuncturist who is using needles to manipulate chi and one who is not…so what is the value of it? 

  • Haystack

    That’s why you would use a large sample size–the individual differences between the office workers and prize fights would balance out when once you test on 100 randomly selected individuals. 

    In any event, if I have to choose between an aspirin and a product which, for whatever reason, is unable to demonstrate its efficacy, I’ll put my money on the aspirin. 

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Wow…hate to seem like I’m doubling down…but I took a break…asked non-chiropractic medical professionals (RNs) a few questions about what I knew about the effects of muscular/skeletal issues and their potential impacts on digestion, lung function, tension etc and whther these things remain constant even in pediatric cases…

    and it looks like both the courts AND Mr Singh are complete illiterate quacks who lack even elementary medical knowledge that has remained unchallenged for 60+ years. The real shame is that the Brit courts got it that wrong…since it appears that even Mr Singhs claim of their being ‘not a jot of evidence’ makes good copywriting…but doesn’t hold any weight with even modern non-chiropractic medical professionals. The treatments aren’t bogus or based on wild theories…they’re pretty much solid as rock and unquestioned by any save the completely batshit or illiterate.

    I hereby change my initial opinion…I was wrong to even marginally support Mr Singhs unsubstantiated and clearly hateful slander, he may very well be the kind of person who belongs in jail…or a mental ward.

  • ICE

    I want me some bear urine for my arthritis 

  • ICE

    I want me some bear urine for my arthritis 

  • Anonymous

    One study is not proof positive of anything. Materialism has its limits in that physical sciences cannot describe all phenomenon.

  • senorchupacabra

    I’m not a big fan of “alternative” medicine, I think much of it is quackery. But I have tried several “alternative” approaches and found them to be beneficial (particularly acupuncture…wow, that stuff really does it for me). What I find funny is that when a pharmaceutical drug is tested and works, it’s “legitimate science.”  But when studies show that some alternative methods work, it’s dismissed as a “placebo effect.” It’s so obvious and blatantly rigged that it pisses me off.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ELVARQAQTCKOSF4KL736MX4NN4 Joseph

    I’m not a big fan of “alternative” medicine, I think much of it is quackery. But I have tried several “alternative” approaches and found them to be beneficial (particularly acupuncture…wow, that stuff really does it for me). What I find funny is that when a pharmaceutical drug is tested and works, it’s “legitimate science.”  But when studies show that some alternative methods work, it’s dismissed as a “placebo effect.” It’s so obvious and blatantly rigged that it pisses me off.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ELVARQAQTCKOSF4KL736MX4NN4 Joseph

    I’m not a big fan of “alternative” medicine, I think much of it is quackery. But I have tried several “alternative” approaches and found them to be beneficial (particularly acupuncture…wow, that stuff really does it for me). What I find funny is that when a pharmaceutical drug is tested and works, it’s “legitimate science.”  But when studies show that some alternative methods work, it’s dismissed as a “placebo effect.” It’s so obvious and blatantly rigged that it pisses me off.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ELVARQAQTCKOSF4KL736MX4NN4 Joseph

    I’m not a big fan of “alternative” medicine, I think much of it is quackery. But I have tried several “alternative” approaches and found them to be beneficial (particularly acupuncture…wow, that stuff really does it for me). What I find funny is that when a pharmaceutical drug is tested and works, it’s “legitimate science.”  But when studies show that some alternative methods work, it’s dismissed as a “placebo effect.” It’s so obvious and blatantly rigged that it pisses me off.

  • http://www.buyspiceonline.com/ buy herbal incense

    You should discuss in choosing alternative medicine activities or healthy addictions that they can participate in. 

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    I also like to prefer herbal medicines rather than chemical based medicines.
    They don’t have any side effects.

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    I also like to prefer herbal medicines rather than chemical based medicines.
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